The South African novelist J.M. Coetzee writes with a pen that's sharp as a knife, in ink made from his own blood. Or so it seems, for each word seems carved or cut, obtained at great price, offered as a sacrifice.
America's torture advocates, it seems, have few moves left. The most brazen of them are not brazen enough to offer anything but well-worn defenses. None dares admit that they believe U.S. security requires us to commit acts of extreme brutality.
Trump can pose as standing up to political correctness. The actual political correctness is how torture is used by war makers to get the tortured "evidence" they want to have a pretext for war and other hideous policies.
For those who remember when the first towers fell on 9/11, there is an unnerving feeling of déjà vu about the Paris attacks.
Could it possibly be that a Bush III administration will revive the use of torture against the Islamic state, an organization that owes its existence to the U.S.'s disastrous occupation of Iraq? And so our country prepares to wrong the wrongs of the past.
The rifleman mustering for a firing squad is honest - an icon of retribution without pretense. If we can own his violent act on our behalf, capital punishment suits us. But clinical killing is euphemism - a cowardly way for us to deceive ourselves.
According to the Justice Department, Mr. Cheney will be extradited to an undisclosed country with no formal torture policies. "He will be treated to that spa's full menu of enhancements," said Bob Lapdoug, Undersecretary for Legal Hijinks. "But rest assured that the United States of America does not torture."
All the hullaballoo over the United States government's' use of torture as an officially-sanctioned intelligence gathering process was bad enough. It brought back memories of a shameful period in American history. But when Dick Cheney reappeared to defend the practice of torture, it was the worst specter of Christmas past.
So what's left for the country's torture apologists? Continue to claim that the program saved lives and discredit the report for relying too much on the CIA's own emails and cables, rather than interviews. What they likely won't do is admit and defend the version of waterboarding described by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Frum and Corn agree that the Feinstein Committee documents "torture" and should have been released but they clash on justifications for the torture. Ditto on Bush-Cheney legacy since, argues Frum, "Safety is the goal of the state." Also: Why can't Obama get any economic respect?
This week, the Senate released its report on America's use of torture after 9/11. The revelations were appalling: a detainee being chained naked to the floor and dying of exposure, another forced to stand on broken legs, more widespread use of waterboarding than previously known, and forced "rectal hydration" (in other contexts, known as rape). And not only did the CIA mislead Congress, but its claims -- repeated this week -- about the program's effectiveness were also unsupported by the evidence. It was a small step in accounting for one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. But it's not enough to, as the president did, simply say we won't do it again. The larger question is: Why aren't the program's architects being prosecuted? The methods used, the president said, are "inconsistent with our values as a nation." And so is placing some people above the law for political expediency. Thankfully, there is no statute of limitations on torture.
The debate over whether the CIA did or did not mislead the Bush administration is a red herring. The real issue is the persistent recourse to torture that the U.S. has relied on in its modern history.
The Senate intelligence committee hopes to release soon a redacted summary of its 6,300-page report on the CIA's interrogational torture program. As we wait, the committee is wrangling with the CIA over redactions that the CIA is demanding.
It is no surprise that Islamic State has adopted some of the CIA torture methods such as waterboarding. This is the very definition of the spiral of violence, where violence used as revenge begets more and greater violence.
While Sarah Palin may consider herself a patriot, all we need are more Americans publicly espousing waterboarding, and other unacceptable terror methods, to push even more potential enemies into believing that indeed the West is serving, or is itself, the Great Satan.
When Sarah Palin commented, at this last week's national National Rifle Association convention, "...waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists," she did worse than offend, worse than degrade human beings, worse than stir up a group of weapon-advocates. She did so in the Name of God.